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‘It’ Duo Andy and Barbara Muschietti, Skydance Launch Horror Label Nocturna

March 14, 2024

The scares are coming out of the gate with ‘They Will Kill You,’ to be directed by Kirill Sokolov.

Andy and Barbara Muschietti, the filmmaking team behind the $1 billion grossing It movies and last year’s The Flash, have teamed up with Skydance to launch a brand new horror division.

Named Nocturna, the Muschiettis will co-own the label and will run its creative direction. The focus of Nocturna will be on high quality, genre features for global audiences in both theatrical and streaming, with the goal of producing two films per year.

Nocturna is not launching with an empty casket. The first project out of the gate will be They Will Kill You, written by Kirill Sokolov and Alex Litvak, with Sokolov, who wrote and directed the 2019 black action comedy Why Don’t You Just Die!, attached to direct.

“Under this label, we are excited to deliver the full range of emotions that our movies pack: Heart, humor and horror,” said the Muschiettis in a statement.

The division will be run by Russell Ackerman and John Schoenfelder, who will act as co-heads of film. Both executives have plenty of genre experience. They produced films such as Jeremy Saulnier’s 2018 crime drama Hold the Dark and 2021’s supernatural thriller Séance, written and directed by Simon Barrett.

They Will Kill You is described as a horror feature laced with the black humor that is Sokolov’s trademark, telling the story of a woman who answers a help wanted ad to be a housekeeper in a mysterious high-rise in New York City, not realizing she is entering a community that has seen a number of disappearances over the years.

David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Don Granger will produce via Skydance along with the Muschiettis and former Orion executive Dan Kagan. Ackerman and Schoenfelder will also produce via Nocturna.

“Andy and Barbara are visionary filmmakers who have mastered the art of scary event movies that connect with global audiences, and David and I along with the entire Skydance team are thrilled to partner with them on the launch of Nocturna,” said Dana Goldberg, Skydance chief creative officer. “It’s fitting that?They Will Kill You?will be our first project as it perfectly encapsulates Nocturna’s mission of delivering unique and entertaining horror experiences that will live in the audiences’ nightmares for years.”

Skydance is known for its big-budgeted studio and streaming fare. It was involved in Top Gun: Maverick and Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning: Part One, and late last year, its Mark Wahlberg action comedy The Family Plan became the most viewed movie in Apple TV+ history while simultaneously Reacher became the top series on Amazon. But it hadn’t yet jumped into horror in a meaningful way. And the genre, when it hits, can be extremely profitable, especially if there’s a crossover into areas such as merchandizing and theme parks (think Halloween Horror Nights and various activations).

A horror arms race has been underway in the last couple of years with studios and companies stocking up on filmmakers and producers. Gary Dauberman, the writer of the It movies, recently signed a first-look at Sony and Screen Gems while Evil Dead Rise filmmaker Lee Cronin this week inked a deal with New Line.

Nabbing the Muschiettis, one of the biggest names in horror, is a coup. The brother-sister duo made their feature debut with the horror hit Mama. They broke box office records with It and It: Chapter Two, the adaptations of the Stephen King novel, with It scoring the biggest opening weekend ever for a horror film, grossing  $701.7M worldwide. It: Chapter Two grossed $473.1M worldwide taking the franchise’s combined total to $1.17 billion. They are expanding the franchise with prequel series, titled Welcome To Derry, for Max. While they are developing a Batman movie called The Brave and the Bold at DC Studios, the duo have not yet committed to their next feature.

The Muschiettis are repped by WME and Johnson Shapiro.

Sokolov, whose Russian language Why Don’t You Just Die won the audience award and best new director at Fantasia when it premeired, is repped by CAA, Good Fear, and Morris Yorn.

Litvak, whose credits range from 2010’s Predators to 2020’s Disney+ original movie Secret Society Of Second Born Royals, is repped by Fourth Wall Management and Jackoway Austen.